‘If feminism was already dead there wouldn’t be so many people trying to kill it’

On Thursday evening feminist Jessica Valenti visited Wilfrid Laurier University to deliver an engaging lecture entitled “Purity, sexism, feminism and power.”

Valenti – author of various books including The Purity Myth, Full Frontal Feminism and He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut as well as founder of the popular website Feministing.com – spoke to a large crowd gathered in 1E1 to share her views on feminism and its relevance in today’s society.

After asking how many identify as feminists, and the vast majority did, the audience was encouraged to yell out the most prevalent stereotypes against feminists.

“Hairy”; “lesbian”; “ugly”; “man-hating”; “can’t get laid”, were among the audience responses.

“For most young women all they know is these stereotypes,” said Valenti.

Valenti argued that generally people are “just too freaked out to use the word”, as society actively embraces these stereotypes because they feel threatened by powerful women.

“The anti-feminist narrative hasn’t changed much [since the women’s suffrage movement],” said Valenti.

“It comes down to a fundamental distrust of women and their bodies.”

Valenti spent some time explaining the scare tactics that are used to highlight the promiscuous nature of young girls, specifically speaking to the immense coverage of “Girls Gone Wild” in the media, as well as books that highlight the negatives that are associated with being a sexually active female.

Valenti also presented theories from her latest book The Purity Myth, which works to debunk the definition of virginity and highlights problems of always equating pre-marital sex and negative repercussions.

Despite depressing realities such as these, Valenti remains optimistic about the future of women’s movement and what people are doing today to fight for feminism.

“If feminism was already dead there wouldn’t be so many people trying to kill it,” said Valenti.

And though she recognizes the various stereotypes associated with the word, Valenti highlighted the importance of embracing it and not being afraid to self-identify as feminists.

“We’re selling ourselves short if we’re not calling our feminists.”

To read an interview with Jessica Valenti click here.

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